New Orleans Film Festival Highlights

“12 YEARS A SLAVE”

Chiwetel Ejiofor portrays Solomon Northup, a free black man from New York who is abducted and sold into slavery. British director Steve McQueen directs a wrenching account of Northup’s years in bondage in Louisiana during the 1840s and ’50s. The cast also includes Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Brad Pitt and “Beasts of the Southern Wild’s” Oscar-nominated actress, Quvenzhané Wallis.

Showed Thursday.

“AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY”

John Wells (“The Company Men”) directs this adaptation of Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer- and Tony-winning play. A family crisis compels the strong-willed women of the Weston family to return to the Midwestern house where they grew up. The all-star cast includes Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney and Sam Shepard.

SHOWING AT 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Prytania Theatre.

“BAYOU MAHARAJAH: THE TRAGIC GENIUS OF JAMES BOOKER”

James Booker was a brilliant New Orleans pianist, a singer and especially troubled local character. His keyboard prowess astonished his fellow musicians, including such accomplished piano pros as Dr. John and Allen Toussaint. New Orleans filmmaker Lily Keber’s documentary combines rare footage of Booker, interviews with his admiring peers and memories of the late pianist by his famous piano student, Harry Connick Jr.

Showing 7 p.m. Oct. 17 at the Civic Theatre.

“LONG WALK TO FREEDOM”

Idris Elba (“Prometheus,” “Thor”) stars as former South African President Nelson Mandela in this film from South Africa directed by Justin Chadwick (“The Other Boleyn Girl”). Based on Mandela’s autobiography, the movie includes his early life, his 27 years in prison and historic presidency.

SHOWING 6:30 p.m. Monday, Prytania Theatre.

“NEBRASKA”

Alexander Payne, director of “Sideways” and “The Descendants,” helms a black-and-white road picture featuring Bruce Dern as a volatile old Montana man who believes he’s won a million dollar sweepstakes. Will Forte co-stars as Dern’s son and driver to Nebraska, where Dern’s character expects to collect his prize.

SHOWING 7:15 p.m. Sunday at the Prytania Theatre.

“THE WHOLE GRITTY CITY”

New York-based filmmakers Richard Barber and Andre Lambertson co-direct this documentary about three New Orleans marching bands and the band leaders who inspire them. The film features the L.E. Rabouin High School Marching Band, the O. Perry Walker High School Band and The Roots of Music.

SHOWING 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Contemporary Arts Center, and 4:15 p.m. Monday at the Prytania Theatre.

Ä ON THE INTERNET:

neworleansfilmsociety.org/pages/detail/31/film-festival